Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Verrazano to leave rivals in the shade

King for a day: Frankie Dettori rides Kingston Hill in today's Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown

Kingston Hill and Night Of Thunder are poised to give us a far better idea of how good this season's lauded three-year-old crop is when they tackle their elders in today's Coral Eclipse Stakes – but Verrazano is the one to be on.

War Command, True Story and Somewhat complete the Classic contingent but, in blunt terms, on what we have seen so far Kingston Hill and Night Of Thunder are the second best of their generation over 12 furlongs and a mile respectively.

Kingston Hill, a Group One winner as a juvenile, served it up to Australia in the Derby, while Night Of Thunder was a slightly fortunate 2,000 Guineas winner before Kingman duly set the record straight in sensational style at Ascot.

They will have their mettle tested this afternoon over the intermediate 10-furlong trip.

Such have been the three-year-olds' prolific exploits to date, you couldn't write off at least one of the quintet exploiting their weight advantage, with Kingston Hill most likely to do so, if he runs.

Fast ground is again a concern for Roger Varian's colt and he may be more of a mile-and-a-half horse, but the manner in which he drew clear with Australia at Epsom was impressive.

If he lines out under Frankie Dettori, he would be expected to at least outshine Night Of Thunder which may not be suited by the trip going by pedigree and his stable's poor record in Group Ones beyond a mile.

On the back of her decisive triumph over Magician and Treve at Ascot, The Fugue is a worthy favourite.

She is a top class mare and has her optimum conditions as she goes for her fifth Group One, so is undoubtedly the one to beat.

The chief concern for John Gosden's mare is that, for all her consistency, she has only ever strung two wins together once in her 16-race career since 2011.

Two of the raiders appeal as representing value against her.

The Jim Bolger-trained 2013 Irish Derby hero Trading Leather is vastly overpriced at 20/1.

Following his Curragh exploits last year, he was placed in three premier all-aged Group Ones, hinting at his potential for 2014.

Verrazano, though, is the best win option at generous odds of around 6/1 now that he has acclimatised for the back-to-form Ballydoyle team.

A winter recruit from America – where he won two Grade One races over nine furlongs on dirt – this step up in trip will suit.

In the longer term, Verrazano could have a tilt at an elusive Breeders' Cup Classic for Aidan O'Brien, and he can confirm that potential under Ryan Moore now.

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